Although all 50 states have some requirement that youngsters be immunized against such childhood diseases as measles, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria and whooping cough, 28 states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only. In recent years, the numbers of religious exemptions for kindergartners has dramatically increased, doubling or tripling in some states.
Many skeptics of the anti-vaccine movement accuse that parents citing religious reasons are really afraid to give their children vaccinations because of autism or other complications. Either way, unvaccinated children can spread diseases to others who have not gotten their shots or those for whom vaccinations provided less-than-complete protection. The article cites several relevant (and scary!) examples of this. The anti-vaccine movement will no doubt continue to stir conflict over the social and ethical aspects of disease prevention.